Time Heals All Wounds, And Then Kills the Patient
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Wed Jun 27 20:05:01 2012
Gender-Role Abolitionism, framework of gender, and discourse

This is a restatement (no substantive changes since my most recent statements on the topic) on the definition and foundations of gender-role abolitionism, the gender-theory framework I use, and the type of social shaping appropriate with this framework/discourse.

It is recognised that there are two primary genetic configurations for our species along the line we're talking about, XX, and XY. It is also recognised that these genotypes generally lead to two distinct phenotype-patterns, giving our species light-moderate dimorphism. It is also recognised that occasionally there are genetic oddities leading to other viable genetic configurations, and there are occasionally developmental oddities leading to differences in gene-expression among people with otherwise-typical genetics. It is further recognised that XX members of our species often are fertile and if they are, they may become pregnant through sexual activity with XY members of our species, the combinations of the gametes from such activities possibly leading to issue; at the present time, practically all members of our species came about through such pairings. The characteristics described so far are shared with many other creatures.

It is recognised that individuals have complicated and elaborate notions of self-identity, desired social identity, and categories they use to understand the world on every topic. It is recognised that many societies, for various reasons, have culturally, legally, and traditionally treated XX and XY humans as quite distinct in capabilities, role, legal status, and natural traits. The paths that such societies pave for individuals are also usually specific to their XX or XY status. It is further recognised that for individuals whose phenotype and genotype differ on this topic, or who have a unusual phenotype or genotype, they are potentially treated in ways differing from their XX or XY status, or potentially treated in some other manner.

It is recognised that some individuals are unhappy with the expectations placed on them by their XX or XY status, because of unusual physical or psychological status, because of unhappiness in how constraining these expectations can be, or because of other reasons.

These recognised, I name the distinctions:

In many languages, pronouns are attached to the most common permutations of sex/gender and gender-role/sexual-identity conflations. In English, we use "he" and "she" for specific people. I leave it to individuals to choose whether to apply it to gender, to initially tie it to apparent gender but use the other pronoun if requested by the person (as I do), or do something different. By leaving it to individuals, I mean that (barring hostile use) I consider either of these choices valid for people to use for anyone they meet and reject efforts by anyone to force (in any sense) a choice on someone.

People who claim to be transgendered are not recognised as such by this framework; they are recognised as having taken a gender-role normally associated with someone with the opposite genetics to theirs. People may, as stated above, use whatever pronouns they wish to refer to them. Governments or individuals may categorise them as said governments or individuals wish, and if they make distinctions between genders (which are inherently suspicious but not necessarily forbidden) or gender-roles or use some framework other than as laid out above, such choices are not appropriate to target through activism just based on discomfort of the individuals whose self-category differs from the external-categories of others. (this is a conclusion of and limit of gender-role abolitionism as described below, but is best mentioned here)

Moving on to gender-role abolitionism, I hold that:

A gender-role abolitionist seeks: The most appropriate targets of activism are: Acceptance (in the short-term or the long) of well-intentioned narrow or duration-limited social institutions that are gender-specific (or gender-role specific, as well as the differences between) is beyond the scope of broad gender-role abolitionism), although in general an important metric for policy or social norms is whether it functions the same with the genders reversed, and such institutions that aim to combat sexism (like affirmative action) are less problematic.

Apart from the appropriate targets as above, gender-role abolitionism aims to be a mainstream philosophy; it does not seek to mandate acceptance of any particular vocabulary or system-of-thought (perspective-diversity being acceptable) so long as its ends are meetable, and it it aims to recognise a more limited range of harms and a narrower-yet range of actionable harms than modern forms of queer theory recognise, limiting its notions of acceptable social-pressuring to meet actionable-harm while producing social content itself that may attempt to mitigate nonactionable-harm that it cannot directly target without becoming intolerant of perspective-diversity. It thus explicitly rejects maximal-validation as a goal and avoids radical tactics, while hopefully being suitable to address the majority of the harms that men, women, and others suffer from gender-normativity.

Gender-role abolitionism strongly aims to appeal to and focus on the oppression of both men and women; the dire problem of homophobia (with neuroticity in all males and self-destructive urges in non-straights) in male inculturation is not just an additional concern as it is in many other forms of feminism; it is a first-rank concern just as much as the forces that systemically limit the potential of women is. The problem is recognised as an unfocused cultural one, not oppression by a patriarchy; where patriarchy exists, it is just an effect of gender-roles that would be abolished, and it is only part of the problem of how we think about gender.

I hold that gender-role abolitionism is a form of feminism, grown from the values-centric portions of the diversity of second-wave feminism rather than the Foucault-inspired critical theory of the third. I hold it to be superiour to, more clear than, better-balancible with other values than, more tolerant than, and more understandable using mainstream reasoning than third-wave feminism. It also avoids unproductive ties with marxian or anarchosocialist theory, keeping it studyable as a distinct subject, and while it can intuitively be extended into a parallel framework on race (which I personally do), its lack of broad commentary on economics (it can offer commentary limited by the gender-difference principle outlined above) is a strength, not a weakness. Finally, through proximity to and explicit ends to be built through mainstream logic, it in practice remains open to mainstream criticism and builds communities that reject the social rot and incivility common in radical communities, while providing the leadership and discourse needed to actually shape mainstream society for the better.

Personally: I understand and accept, as a part of the design of this philosophy (of which I am not the author, just one of the refiners, reframers, and asserters of an intuition that has a history that long predates me) that it recognises more harm than it has means to fix that it judges acceptable. I do not see this as a fault. Personally, this set of stances, which is a deep and long-lived part of my identity, as well as the identity of many others I have met and spoken with over my thirty-some years, fits well with my other stances but does not depend on them.